Pluto’s gone! In one day, the ring of planets stuck on the ceiling of my kids’ room has become outdated. I need to reach up and yank out little Pluto. What’s the big deal, you might ask? It’s just another lump of celestial stuff zipping in a higgledy piggledy path around the sun. One less, no big deal.

Well, to my kids it is. They can rattle off the nine planets from memory. Now, ending that recitation at Neptune seems a tad incomplete. And obviously they aren’t the only ones. An ABC Newsonline report quotes Michael Shara, the American Museum of Natural History in New York’s astrophysics curator, “We had enormous numbers of telephone calls and I would say things that verged on hate mail from second-graders - very angry children who said, ‘What have you done? This is the cutest, most Disney-esque of the planets. How could you possibly demote it?”

What do I think of it? I think it’s fine. We all need a good solid jolt now and then. Shake our foundations, make us rethink all the things we take for granted – be it planets or people.

First published on August 25, 2006